The Human Family Tree and more (2) From Africa to the Indus Valley and beyond

(In the article of Joseph K. Pickrell en Jonathan K. Pritchard, “Inference of population splits and mixtures from genome-wide allele frequency data” their human family tree leads out of Africa.)

Map Human Family Tree Indus SIberia Asia

Map Human Family Tree Indus SIberia Asia

The following important split must have happened outside Africa. Around the estuary of the Indus a group probably continued following  the coast and another one moved up the Indus to the North.

In this article an important new element appears for the first time. In Cambodia old genes were detected that had left Africa a long time before, and once out of Africa probably followed the southern coastal route along the Indian Ocean and thus arrived in Cambodia. These Cambodian genes that took the southern route were not the only ones. They were part of a larger stream of people, black people, whose descendants still live on the Andaman islands, Thailand, Birma, Indonesia, the Philippines, Southern China and of course all of Oceania.

Human Family Tree DNA Asia

Human Family Tree DNA Asia

Another branch split off to the North. The Indus is its most likely route. This study confirms the study of Stephen Oppenheimer [1] which I have used as the main base to study  the spread of modern man from Africa, in my books on hunters and gatherers.[2]

The next progress of the Indus branch led to Central Asia. There the following split was that of people who moved to Eastern Siberia (and others to Europe). Their descendants would later make the crossing to America. Those that stayed in Southern Siberia would populate East Asia: Mongolia, China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, but also Indochina and later further south to Indonesia and ultimately Polynesia where the met people that had followed the Southern route. The Siberian trek explains why both Europeans and East Asians have a pale skin, they have common origins in Central Asia. In their passage there having a black skin was a disadvantage [3]. Natural adaptation selected for a skin with a lighter color. On their journey from southern Siberia to the South they had contact with the descendants of the oldest Homo sapienses who lived there: black people who looked like black Africans today. There are still descendants of these that live in the Andaman Islands, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, Melanesia and Australia.[4]

The node in the Indus Valley provides many of the oldest genes in Asia. (See map) From the oldest DNA to the youngest: Burusho – Sindhi-Pashtuns –Kalash – Balochi – Brahui. This does not match an exact South-North axis but this can be explained that older DNA may disappear and younger DNA may continue to exist. The migration from Africa to the Indus valley, some 80,000 to 65,000 years ago, must have followed a South – North axis in the Indus Valley.

The oldest preserved DNA is from that from the Burusho. The Sindhi have a younger mutation, the Pashtuns a still younger and so on. It does not mean that the Baluchi travelled first to Northern Pakistan to relocate later in Southeast Iran and South-West Pakistan.

The Uyghurs but also the Hazara are people were fairly recently formed. Their DNA is a mixed one, it comes from different peoples.

Next part: admixture with archaic genes in the Indus valley.

[1]Stephen Oppenheimer, Out of Eden. The Peopling of the World, Constable, London, 200

[2] Marc Vermeersch. De geschiedenis van de mens. Deel I. Jagers en verzamelaars. – Boek 1, van Pan tot Homo sapiens. (405 pagina’s) – Boek 2, de maatschappij van jagers en verzamelaars. (472 pagina’s)

[3] (From Wikipedia)  1.From ~1.2 million years ago to less than 100,000 years ago, the ancestors of all people alive were dark-skinned Africans. (humans in the North may also have had a pale skin color)
2. As populations began to migrate, the evolutionary constraint keeping skin dark decreased proportionally to the distance North a population migrated, resulting in a range of skin tones within northern populations.
3. At some point, northern populations experienced positive selection for lighter skin due to the increased production of vitamin D from sunlight and the genes for darker skin disappeared from these populations.
[4] Mentioned in: Boek 2, de maatschappij van jagers en verzamelaars, p.12-135.


The Human Family Tree and more (1)


The African 'oldest) part of the Human Family Tree

The African 'oldest) part of the Human Family Tree

The research of the human family tree never stood still but since DNA Research began it is in full motion. Below we use a research (that uses many others) that offers new insights. The last word concerning the human family tree however is still not said and it will probably not be spoken for a very long time.

A new study by Joseph Pickrell and Jonathan K. Pritchard, “Inference of population split from genome-wide allele frequency data and mixtures”, yielded a new family tree of humanity. In fact a new human family tree of which different variants were produced. In this pedigree, account was taken of important migrations that happened after the great spread of humans across the world from Homo heidelbergensis on. We discuss the most important aspects.

When looking at the tree we see that Homo Neanderthalensis and the Denisova hominins (that may be another kind of Neanderthal) first split from this human tree. They descended, like Homo sapiens, from Homo heidelbergensis and migrated from Africa to Eurasia around 800,000 years ago where they split in two branches around 640,000 years ago. These are approximate values which are based on average mutations.

Homo heidelbergensis evolved to Homo sapiens In Africa. On the family tree, we see that the San (or Bushmen) appear at the oldest split of Homo sapiens groups. One study states that this happened maybe between 150,000 and 90,000 years ago.[1]

The next Division was that of Mboeti-Pygmies that live in Northeast Congo.

The third division was that of the Biaka Pygmies that mainly live in the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

These three groups lived until recently as hunters and gatherers. The DNA of these peoples was so long preserved because they lived isolated until recently from recent developments such as the further spread of agriculture in Africa from Cameroon/Nigeria to the East and the South. From the fact that KhoiSan stand at the root of the human family tree we cannot infer that modern humans originated in southern Africa. It just means that very old mutations are found there. If we go back far enough in time all humans have the same ancestors but one branch must have the oldest least changed DNA.

The next group that we see on the human family tree are the Bantus of southern Africa. Their ancestors were the first that departed from Cameroon about 4000 years ago. The forefront retained its DNA. One sees also that the fork of the Bantus in Kenya is more recent. That points to a later departure from the core area in Cameroon/Nigeria.

To the African Branch of the modern humans we also see the Mozabite people. These are Berbers who live in the Algerian Sahara. The article gives no detailed explanation about them but we know that for the related Tuareg female DNA (mtDNA) is for approximately 82% sub-Saharan[2] and male DNA (y-chromosome) only 20%. 18% of Tuareg mtDNA is Berber and 82% of male DNA. The Mozabite people did to slave trade and it was the men who traveled. Mixing with black female slaves was obvious. Arrows connect the Mozabite people with the Middle East, with the spread of agriculture to North Africa and southern Europe.  

[1] Doron M. Behar et al., The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity, The American Journal of Human Genetics, 24 April 2008.

[2] Rando (1998), “Mitochondrial DNA analysis of Northwest African populations reveals genetic exchanges with European, Near-Eastern, and sub-Saharan population

A new Type of Human in Southwest China?

Simulation of the man found in Longlin en in Maludong 1 in Southwest China

Simulation of the man found in Longlin en in Maludong 1 in Southwest China

Finds discovered in in two places in Southwest China, Longlin and Maludong 1, point towards a type of human that had both modern and archaic characteristics.

On 14 March 2012, it was announced that a find in Southwest China could represent a new type of man. The results of the investigation of a partial skull found in a Longlin Cave (Guangxi) was announced together with those of Maludong (Yunnan) where multiple human bones were found. The finds are between 14,300 and 11,500 years old. According to the researchers they belonged to the same type of man, who had mix of modern and archaic characteristics. Archaic are e.g. the big eyebrow arches and no chin. Modern is that the front part of the skull indicates a frontal brain development.
The authors give two possible explanations:
– These were late survivors of an archaic population such as were also found in North Africa in Dar-es-Soltane and Temara (The authors compare a similar situation, not the remains) and perhaps also in China in Zhirendong.
– East Asia may have been colonized by humans in different waves. The finds of Maludong and Longlin could be of a type that had come from Africa before for Homo sapiens was the most important human living there.
On the BBC Isabel de Groot spoke about a third possibility: the finds in China are the result of a mixture of an old archaic population and modern people (sapiens).

A skull found in  Longlin

A skull found in Longlin

I think that these three explanations are thre possibilities, even in combination. Speaking of a new type of human seems to be premature. The researchers will try to extract DNA from the bones. If they would succeed multiple questions might be solved at once. Which would inevitably raise new questions.

Source: Darren Curnoe et al. , Human Remains from the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition of Southwest China Suggest a Complex Evolutionary History for East Asians,  PLoS ONE 7(3): e31918. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031918

About older types of humans in China:
Marc Vermeersch. De geschiedenis van de mens. Deel I. Jagers en verzamelaars. – Boek 1, van Pan tot Homo sapiens. p.112-113; 156-161; 165-166; 181;219-220.
– Boek 2, de maatschappij van -jagers en verzamelaars. , p.44; p.159-160.

Nerja Caves: the oldest Cave Art in Europe, 42,000 years old

Rock Art of the Nerja Caves (ES) is 42,000 years old

Rock Art of the Nerja Caves (ES) is 42,000 years old

The title of one of my previous blogs was “Chauvet Cave, the oldest known cave art in Europe“. This title has to be changed. A fortnight ago (feb. 11, 2012)  professor Jose Luis Sanchidrian (University of Corboba) announced that six cave paintings had been found in the Nerja Caves 35 km from Malaga (Andalusia, Spain). Datings done on organic deposits beside the paintings gave an age between 43,500 and 42,300 years. In 2013 results of datings of the paintings themselves should be published.

The pictured animals resemble seals but bear stripes. An observer thought they might represent a kind of fish species.
The most important of this find is that it is 10,000 years older than the rock paintings of the Chauvet Cave (F). Chauvet with an age up to 32,500 years seems suddenly much younger and Lascaux, up to 17,000 years old, suddenly seems young, some 25,000 years younger than the finds in the Nerja Caves.
This find could be very important for another reason.
Painted by neanderthalensis or by sapiens?
So far it was assumed that Neanderthals lived South of the Ebro at least 28,000 years ago or more recent. They made stone tools that technically belonged to the mousterian which corresponded with what Neanderthals produced until the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe.
Recently it was argued by some researchers that Homo sapiens arrived in Europe much earlier than was accepted until recently. They suppose modern man arrived around 40,000 years ago. To be followed.
Professor Sanchidrian thinks the paintings were made by neanderthals. If we are naughty, we would ask whether Homo sapiens took over rock paintings from … Neanderthals. To be followed.
It is remarkable that these paintings represent animals just as the paintings of the much younger caves in France and Spain which were undoubtedly made by Homo sapiens. Was totemism a part of neanderthal culture?
Source: La prima obra de arte de la humanidad, ¿hecha por neandertales?
If you are interested in art you might like these blogs:
Art in Olduvai 1,74 Million Years BP, Baboonhead Rather unknown, undeserved, the oldest known art in the world
The Origin of Aesthetic Feeling and Art Fundamental: How our aesthetic feeling originated in reproduction of man, a darwinian explanation.
The oldest statuettes adapted by man are between 233,000 and 800,000 years old
“Lion Man”, the oldest statuette with a combination man-animal ‘Der Löwenmensch” was found in Germany.
The oldest Love Statuette in the World They keep on loving for ever in the British Luseeum.
A virtual visit to the Lascaux Cave is mind blowing!
Nerja Caves: the oldest Cave Art in Europe, 42,000 years old Rock paintings , probably made by neanderthals

Valentine’s day. Romeo and Juliet in Italy, 6000 years ago.

The Lovers of Valdaro in their eternal embrace

The Lovers of Valdaro in their eternal embrace

In 2007 archaeologists found two skeletons in the village Valdaro, not far from Mantua in northern Italy. Special about this find was that the faces were directed towards each other and that the deceased held each other in a warm embrace.

Normally, at every other excavation, the bones would have been taken apart to investigate them. Here however this would have broken the unique entanglement. The researchers therefore decided to lift the block in which the lovers were found in its entirety.

The analysis of the bones confirmed the suspicions: the skeletons were those of a young man and a young woman who were between 18 and 20 years old and approximately 1.57 m large. They are known as the lovers of Valdaro. There is in contrast with the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare no indication that they would have died a violent death.

One has to guess why the lovers died. A deadly contagious disease is a possibility. Their relatives must have been deeply moved by their tragic death. We may assume that they, like all people until recently, believed in life after death. This is probably the reason why they were buried them in an intense entanglement, an eternal embrace. Their love was probably brief but intense during their lifetime. As a symbol, they may become known worldwide.

It learns us that true love existed 6,000 years ago as well as it does today.

A tragic fact of life took the life of the lovers of Valdaro but their deep entanglement testifies today that love can be forever.

A Committee was founded that wishes to exhibit the Valdaro Lovers permanently .
For the moment nothing much can be seen at their site,, but we hope they succeed. Mantua is situated near Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet.

Photos about the excavations and the removal of the skeletons are at:

The Problem of the Homeland of Afro-Asiatic (2) and the origin of agriculture

(blog ready for 30%)

In order to explain where the homeland of the Afro-Asian (or Afrasian) is located, we need a general explanation about the spread of agriculture.

The spread  of Afro Asiatic in Africa and Arabia

The spread of Afro Asiatic in Africa and Arabia

Origin  and Spread of Agriculture

Agriculture was born approximately 12,000 years ago in Southeast Anatolia and the North of Syria and Iraq. From there it spread in multiple directions. Europe was one of those directions. A route that was followed here was the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Seaworthy boats were used. Cyprus was first populated by humans around 11.750 years ago from northern Syria or Lebanon. Via Greece or the Bosphorus farmers travelled to the North. It would take thousands of years before agriculture reached Ireland and Scandinavia.
A second major direction was to Central Asia, a third to Iran, the Indus Valley and further in India to the southernmost point of the subcontinent and then to Ceylon.

A fourth trek went to Arabia. Along the Western side farmers travelled to the South. In Yemen they found a favorable climate for agriculture. Yemen is poorly researched but at last five thousand years ago, agriculture flourished there. Yemen was known in the antiquity of the Middle East it is mentioned both in the Old as in the New Testament.

A fifth expansion went from Southwest Asia to Egypt and along the southern edge of the Mediterranean Sea in North Africa to Morocco and later even further to the Canary Islands. All these migrations left from the agricultural centre that Southwest Asia was with plants, domestic animals such as goats and sheep, the first domesticated animals after the dog. They traveled pretty quickly with the first spreading farmers before pottery was invented in this part of the world.

Once South-West Asian farmers had invented pottery, their knowledge catched up with the farmers that had left first. The same happened after cattle (Bos taurus) had been domesticated. Cattle reeding spread along the routes that had been trevelled.

Farmers had a high productivity in comparison with hunters and gatherers. They could produce more food and therefore raise more children. In comparison with hunters and gatherers the number of farmers increased quickly, they spread their genes. They also intermixed with hunters and gatherers but in many places they replaced them partially or almost completely. Sometimes their advance stalled when they reached other climate zones and crops had to adapt to wetter and/or colder weather, or vice versa dryer and warmer weather. This could delay advance for a long time. Farmers could in many cases domesticate local plants and animals. The Zebu (Bos indicus) was e.g. domesticated in India. It was better suited than South-West Asian cattle to live in a hot climate.

Dissemination of farmers and their languages

Since the number of farmers increased easily, chances were that they spread their languages with their agricultural techniques. Human groups living in the same area that speak different languages need a lingua franca. Hunters and gatherers spoke languages that had had a lot of time to grow apart. Farmers spoke languages that spread fast and diverged little. An important advantage to be adopted as a common language of farmers and different groups of hunters and gatherers.

A second wave of expanding farmers could inundate a first. The Celts had spread their language and habits from Italy to Austria up to Ireland and Spain. They would be overwhelmed by a next wave, the Germans and the ancient Italic people (Indo-Europeans invading Italy) and finally only survive on the fringes of Western Europe.

However, the language of the farmers did not always win. Sometimes they spreading farmers collided on a border where people would retain their own language. We do not know which language the first European farmers spoke, proto-Afro-Asian, proto-Caucasian or language related with that of Lemnos and Etruscan but it did not conquer conquer the western edge of the Pontic-Caspian steppe (north of the Black Sea) where people spoke a precursor of proto-Indo-European.

Read more on Afro-Asiatic?

The Problem of the Homeland of Afro-Asiatic (1)